Conventional wisdom says you’ll save money by eating at home, rather than going out to restaurants.
But according to the Labor Department, grocery prices rose by 13.1% in July from a year before, whereas restaurant prices were up 7.6%.
That’s the largest inflationary gap between the two dining experiences in about half a century.
But when you look a little closer, the price disparity is a bit misleading.
For one thing, much of the average savings for consumers comes from eating at fast-food restaurants, which have strived to avoid price hikes as they struggle to to regain their pre-pandemic footing.
Higher-end eateries are still typically more expensive than at-home meals.
Moreover, many independent restaurants, operating on narrow margins, may be reluctant to pass along their higher costs to customers, whereas most supermarket chains haven’t hesitated to raise retail prices in lockstep with higher wholesale costs.
The most important difference, however, is that you can still dine more healthfully at home than eating at potentially cheaper fast-food places.
Go ahead, dine out if you please — and your local mom-and-pop restaurants will be grateful for your business.
But careful shopping at the grocery store can still produce thriftier meals than most restaurant fare. Be a coupon clipper. Watch for special deals.
With consumer prices at a 40-year high, savvy consumers know they have to put more work into their shopping if they want to save a buck.
But when it comes to food, you’ll generally save money — and enjoy better nutrition — eating at home than dining out.